Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Easy First Step (Cone, Part 4)

Back during the Bush years, Congress passed a law banning suits against arms manufacturers for liability due to the actions of people who use their weapons to commit crimes. You may be aware that, for example, bars are liable when their customers leave their premises drunk and have wrecks. Also, tobacco companies have been found liable for the diseases caused by their products. No doubt this is why the Bush administration--an administration by and for free enterprise, not free people--simply made such liability impossible by legal fiat.

Here's the lede:

Congress Passes New Legal Shield for Gun Industry


WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 - The Republican-controlled Congress delivered a long-sought victory to the gun industry on Thursday when the House voted to shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. The bill now goes to President Bush, who has promised to sign it.

The gun liability bill has for years been the No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association, which has lobbied lawmakers intensely for it. Its final passage, by a vote of 283 to 144, with considerable Democratic support, reflected the changing politics of gun control, an issue many Democrats began shying away from after Al Gore, who promoted it, was defeated in the 2000 presidential race.

"It's a historic piece of legislation," said Wayne LaPierre, the association's chief executive, who said the bill was the most significant victory for the gun lobby since Congress rewrote the federal gun control law in 1986. "As of Oct. 20, the Second Amendment is probably in the best shape in this country that it's been in decades."

The bill, which is identical to one approved in July by the Senate, is aimed at ending a spate of lawsuits by individuals and municipalities, including New York City, seeking to hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for negligence when their weapons are used in crimes.

While it bars such suits, the measure contains an exception allowing certain cases involving defective weapons or criminal behavior by a gun maker or dealer, such as knowingly selling a weapon to someone who has failed a criminal background check.

President Bush said in a statement that he looked forward to signing the bill, which he said would "further our efforts to stem frivolous lawsuits, which cause a logjam in America's courts, harm America's small businesses, and benefit a handful of lawyers at the expense of victims and consumers."

Backers of the measure say it is necessary to keep the American arms industry in business, while opponents say the law would deprive gun violence victims of a legitimate right to sue. Dispirited gun-safety advocates said they now expected attempts to dismiss nearly a dozen lawsuits around the country, and they vowed to challenge the constitutionality of the bill in court.
(c) New York Times, October 20, 2005

While fashioning complex new weapons legislation will of necessity take time--although such a job is obviously necessary and hopefully is being undertaken with all seriousness even as we speak--it would be easy for Congress to act even before Christmas on a simple and partial solution--repeal this absurd law.

One might note that they still make booze and cigarettes, and the bars are still open. One might also note that whatever Mr. LaPierre says this coming Friday in his no doubt highly crafted NRA response statement, it was Mr. LaPierre who fashioned this law in the first place, and who was earlier this month demanding the head of Bob Costas for simply expressing disgust at the general gun culture insanity which now exists in America.

As with tobacco and bourbon, liability has a way of focusing the mind.


Friday Update. From the Rude Pundit today, coverage of the much awaited LaPierre press conference:

In Brief: Four Lines from Wayne LaPierre's "News Conference" That Apply to Wayne LaPierre and the NRA:
1. "[O]ur society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them."

2. "How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave."

3. "There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people."

4. "Isn't fantasizing about killing people as away to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?"

Yeah, that batshit insane, divorced-from-reality, humanity-debasing speech happened. If NRA members don't quit en masse, they deserve all the condemnation and scorn the sane majority can heap on them.

In North Carolina a pro-gun group in Raleigh has joined the chorus of those who imagine that arming teachers and others in schools is some sort of "answer" to this sickening problem of gun violence in America.

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